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June 21, 2015
“God is Against Selfishness!”
Amos 6:4-8, 11-14
PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy! Blessings.
(Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited)
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.” (John Wesley)
“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” (Albert Pike)
In other words, this life is not all about you! This was a concept those to whom Amos was prophesying had a hard time grasping. Our lives become richer and more rewarding when we work not just for ourselves, but when we invest in the lives of others as well.
We are continuing our study of Amos and his rebuke to the people of Israel. This week his message hits to the heart for it was in their hearts where selfish roots have grown over and sprung up like weeds manifesting itself in an uncaring nature toward their fellow man while some lived in the lap of luxury.
True wealth is not found in the accumulation of money and things. True wealth is found in how we live this life that God has given us. Have we lived according to His Word? Have we lived our life in faith and trust in Him over the materialistic pull of society? Have we used what He has given us to help our fellow man? Are our lives marked by compassion and love and other fruit of the Spirit that reaches out to others? Are we living for Him or are we living for ourselves?
Selfishness will never fly with God because He has never been selfish toward us.
Amos 6:4-6 “That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David; That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.”
Chapter 6 opens with a familiar WOE; a sound warning to God’s people: “Woe to them that are ease in Zion . . .,” (Amos 6:1). We will often hear this referenced even in the churches today, and with good reason.
Complacency is a killer of the faith. They were satisfied with the way life was for them and saw no need for change even if some abode in the midst of “affliction.” Their eyes were focused only on their selves and not the plight of their fellow man. They lived lavish lifestyles while others went without the basic necessities of life.
Many of us have seen them. There standing on the corner with a cardboard sign held up quoting “Will work for food,” or some other notation declaring their plight. Where I live, driving into the city on almost every corner they are there. Under the bridges and overpasses appears little camps made out of old furniture and used blankets. Despite the frigid temperatures at times these people live in the outdoors with only these meager things as shelter.
While many of us can’t boast of the life of a rich man, many of us are much better off than a lot of people in this world. In an article written by Anup Shah titled “Poverty Facts and Stats,” (this is a really good source of information) it is quoted that “Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day” (Globalissues.org).
And, we know that those to whom Amos was speaking were rich! They had beds made of “ivory.” We all know where ivory comes from, the tusks of elephants. How many tusks do you suppose it would take to make just one bed out of ivory? I don’t know the answer to that, but given where the ivory comes from and process it takes to get it to become a “bed” it has to be very costly. This really exemplifies the fact that not only did those to whom Amos was speaking have more than enough to satisfy their needs for living – they had an extraordinary amount of wealth to pay for such lavish things.
Yet, others were not worthy of their attention nor did they receive some sort of aid to help in the time of crisis.
The people ate out of their abundance as well. They could boast of “lambs” and “calves” being on the nightly dinner menu. These were expensive cuts of meat. They got the best of the best for their table daily while others struggle for a crumb.
This reminds us so much of the story of Lazarus the beggar and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31). The Bible tells us, “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores,” (Luke 16:19-21).
The rich man, much like Amos’ audience, was filled with so much arrogance over the state of affairs of their finance and prosperity that there was no room in their hearts for compassion of those that didn’t have. Here, that reference was made about the “affliction of Joseph.”
Jesus once warned, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” (Matthew 6:21). The rich man’s heart and Amos’ audience was on themselves, and not on showing compassion for human suffering.
Back to the recipients of Amos’ prophesies, he noted that they “chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David; that drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments.” They are living a life of ease and merriment; music and singing; celebrating and partying. They have the best of everything: “wine” in abundance that needs to be guzzled from “bowls” for their insatiable appetite instead of regular vessels and the most expensive “ointments.” No worries. No cares and, no caring nature.
They were living it up while others were barely living.
“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own,” -Cesar Chavez (Quote Source: Brainyquote.com).
Proverbs warns, “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich,” (21:17).
Amos 6:7 “Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.”
Recompense was coming! The word “therefore” speaks to what Amos was saying before. It was because of their attitude of selfishness; it was because of their neglect of others while they lived in opulence and luxury; it was because they cared more about the materialistic side of life rather than the other humans living in it – God was going to follow through with His punishment of their ungodly, self-seeking, and self-pleasing ways.
God was going to right the wrong. Not only in dealing with the nation as a whole who had sinned against Him. But, He was going to right the wrong of the injustices that were carried out one toward another.
As I stated in last week’s lesson, NO ONE is getting away with anything. We really see this here. “The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed,” (Psalm 103:6).
The status of the rich may have gotten them what they wanted so far, but when God is ready, they will not escape the plan He has laid out for their “captivity.” In fact, He says, they will be the “first” to go.
The irony here, the selfish rich hearers of Amos always want to have the best and to be the “first” at everything. I am willing to guarantee you that this is one time they wish they weren’t “first”J. One day they were “stretched” out in the lap of luxury in a “banquet,” and the next they were “removed.”
No matter who we are in life or what we have, in a moment’s notice God can take it all away or He can increase it. “The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up,” (1 Samuel 2:7). Here, they would be “removed.”
Amos 6:8, 11 “The LORD GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the GOD of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein. For behold, the LORD commandeth, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts.”
God can bless you but it is up to you to use those blessings to glorify Him.
They did not. Rather, they took the advantage of one another and oppressed their fellow man, thereby, causing God to “abhor” their prosperity.
God detested and despised their success. Don’t ever let God bring you to a place of favor and then regret getting you there.
“The LORD GOD hath sworn by himself . . . I will deliver up the city with all that is therein.” God made a vow, so to speak, that can never be revoked by another. This vow He made He “hath sworn by himself.”
God can swear by none greater than Himself (see Hebrews 6:13). And, whatsoever He has spoken to come to pass shall surely do so. “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,” (Isaiah 14:24).
God’s purposes will stand and be accomplished. Here, that purpose was to “deliver up the city with all that is therein.”
As was stated in previous lessons, consequences will come. If we reference back to the story of Lazarus, the rich man there, because of his indifference and careless attitude toward Lazarus reaped the very fruit that he had sown in his life:
“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented,” (Luke 16:22-25).
He lived for himself and reaped the rewards that that brings. His destiny was now reversed from his lifestyle. He now suffered while Lazarus was at peace. The temporary decisions of yesterday now become their permanent eternity. This is very real and thought provoking.
All that he invested in to make his life on that side prosperous didn’t amount to a hill of beans in eternity because all he invested in was himself. In my opinion it wasn’t his being rich but what he did with it that shortsighted his eternal perspective. Psalms 112 speaks of the man that fears the Lord and delights in His commandments. In verse 2-3 it says the “generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth forever.” But, verse 5 goes on to say of this same man, “A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion;” and verse 7 says, “his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.” Finally, verse 9 exclaims, “He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor.” Though this man that the psalmist speaks of is rich he also knows how to use it to think of others also.
This was a lesson that God was bound and determined to teach His people through the prophet Amos and also through captivity.
“The LORD commanded.” In Isaiah He said, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it,” (55:11). And, what He commanded was everybody, both small and great, will feel the effects of their consequences.
Money can’t buy their way out of this one. You can’t bribe God: “Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts,” (2 Chronicles 19:7, emphasis mine; see also Colossians 3:25).
“He will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts.” 2 Kings gives us a picture of what this looked like: “And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire,” (25:9). Everything and everyone both small and great must submit to the will of the Lord, and in His will He demands justice.
Amos 6:12-14 “Shall horses run upon the rock? will one plow there with oxen? for ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock: Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought, which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength? But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the LORD the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness.”
“Horses” are not meant to “run upon the rock.” Neither is “oxen” meant to “plow there.” They are out of order there. They will not function at their best capacity in those environments. “Judgment and righteousness” is always God’s best for His people; however, because of their greed and self-indulgent lifestyles they have turned the best into something bitter, here described as “gall and hemlock.”
The fact of the matter is that justice is supposed to be anything but bitter. It is supposed to serve everyone equally. It’s supposed to be fair and impartial working for all mankind despite their economic status. Justice is not for individual advancement, but for the common good of all who seek her.
“For I the LORD love judgment,” Isaiah 61:8 says. “For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright,” is what Psalm 11:7 tells us. Here, we see two things that God loves: “judgment and righteousness;” the people are accused of perverting to benefit self.
For the Christian, Paul teaches, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others,” (Philippians 2:3-4). This is a view that would be opposed by Amos’ readers if they were around in Paul’s day. When you put the two: “his own things” and “the things of others” side by side for them, they would choose whatever it was that promoted and supported self without regard to another.
Furthermore, to add insult to injury, they have taken credit for gaining and prospering in the land due to their “own strength.” They didn’t give God the glory for all He had done for them. Talk about really being selfish. Geesh!
But, here’s a word of warning for them and all who choose to follow in their selfish footsteps: “For by strength shall no man prevail,” (1 Samuel 2:9). They didn’t get to where they are on their own. They better recognize!
The Bible tells us, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Cor. 3:5, KJV). The Apostle Paul out-and-out tells us: We don’t have it in us! Any gifts, any abilities, any special insights and any favor – we have it because of God! There’s no room for a self-sufficient attitude when God is trying to work in you.
“Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength,” (Psalm 29:1).
Amos reiterates God’s judgment in the matter: “I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the LORD the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness.” As the rich man with Lazarus, now they too will know a time of affliction because of the selfish choices they made.
God has the final say and the rod of His judgment will come via another “nation.” Then, all pride and selfishness will be dealt with, humbling the recipients thereof.
Don’t hold too tightly onto your blessings. Share them and sow seeds of righteousness in the lives of others.
“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need,
and shutteth up his bowls of compassion from him, how dwelleth
the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word,
neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth,” (1 John 3:17-18).
(Click here for PDF: God is Against Selfishness Sunday School Lesson, or simply click the print button below. Enjoy!)
Below are activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Draw the Scene: God is Against Selfishness Draw the Scene
How Many Words?: God is Against Selfishness How Many Words (Use this PDF for accurate printing)
The activities below help students to remember a godly attitude toward money. Enjoy!
“No One Can Serve Two Masters” Coloring Page by Ministry to Children
“Giving for Orphan Care” Coloring Page by Ministry to Children
“God Loves a Cheerful Giver” Memory Verse Coloring Page by Mssscrafts
“God Love a Cheerful Giver” Offering Plate Craft by Mssscrafts
“Make Your Own Money Sack Craft” from Mssscrafts
Jesus wasn’t selfish! Use anyone of the activities below to help remind students to be more like Jesus. Enjoy!
“Jesus Crafts for Kids” (Incorporate any one of these activities to fit with our lesson. I particularly like the “Standing Jesus Pic,” instead of writing Jesus loves me, you can write Jesus prays for me. Enjoy!)
“How to Draw Jesus: 7 Steps” (Your students can follow these simple step by step instructions to draw a picture of Jesus for themselves to help them to remember the One that is praying for them. May be more suitable for older students. Enjoy!)
Another “How to Draw Jesus Easy” (More cartoonish and adaptable to varied age groups)
“How to Draw Jesus Christ” (This one is geared to the younger students and I think they will enjoy it greatly. What fun your students will have when they find out they can draw a picture of JESUS themselves. Awesome for this lesson or just about any lesson. Also comes with a “print friendly” version. Enjoy!)
“Jesus Loves Me Craft” (Easy construction paper craft. I would change the word “love” to “prays for” to fit this week’s lesson. Enjoy!)
“Name of Jesus Coloring Sheet” (Not a color-by-number, but a color-by-color sheet. Enjoy!)
“How to Bead a Craft Necklace” (What a great way to remember who is interceding for you. Enjoy!)
“Bible Baseball” (A great lesson review game. Enjoy!)
“Bible Verse Balloon Batting” (A great memory verse game. Enjoy!)
The Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross was the greatest act of unselfishness. Use activities below as a reminder. Enjoy!
“Cross Crafts for Kids” (Here you will find 10 different cross crafts for kids. Enjoy!)
“Salt Painting Cross Craft” (This craft is super easy if you have salt, paint, construction paper and glue. I did something similar to this on another project and it was well received. Enjoy!)
“The Colors-of-Christ Cross Bead Craft” (Offers step-by-step instructions. Enjoy!)
“Cross Art” (Easy finger painting idea that comes out to be a beautiful art piece. Enjoy!)
Below are Links to Cross Coloring Pages. Enjoy!
Lazarus and the Rich Man. The activities below will help to remind us where selfishness gets us and helps us to avoid it. (This story was also referenced in our lesson above. Enjoy!
“The Rich Man and The Humble Begger Coloring Sheet” (This coloring sheet is ideal for older students)
“Rich Man, Poor Man Colored Story Powerpoint” (This powerpoint is a great idea to use as a digital story book for this week’s lesson. Enjoy!)
“Rich Man, Poor Man Coloring Book” (This is the same as the powerpoint above except this is in coloring book form for your students to color themselves. Enjoy!)
“Bible Story Craft for Lazarus and the Rich Man” (This is great and has printables of food and the dog to help students illustrate this week’s lesson for themselves. This is a simple project that any class can benefit from. Simply follow the instructions and enjoy!)
“The Rich Man and Lazarus” (This easy to print and make project perfectly illustrates this week’s lesson especially for teachers short on time and resources. Enjoy!) – Pictured Below
“Lazarus and the Rich Man” (This one has a great object lesson to get the point of the lesson across in a visual representation. Enjoy!)
“The Rich Man and Lazarus” (Ok, this object lesson is GREAT! Balloons, salt, pepper and paper plates. Oh yeah, this goes well with any age group and a definite must try. Go to page 4 to find. Enjoy!)
Ideas for Laying up Treasures in Heaven (can be easily adapted for this week’s lesson). Enjoy!:
Money Bible Activities:
“How to Teach a Children’s Bible Lesson About Giving” (This is a great way to teach children to look at their money differently instead of all they can gain for themselves. Enjoy!)
“Training a Child About Money” (This site hosts scores of links for parents and teachers to really evaluate and teach children about money. Enjoy!)